Friday, December 28, 2007

All is calm...

...for the first time in several weeks. Like nearly everyone else, I've been crazy busy with Christmas. But now, for the first time, it's quiet, calm and peaceful.

Santa really rocked my world this Christmas (or maybe I rocked his!! Ha!) I'd take photos of the ultimate gift, but my son stole all my AA batteries for his wireless xbox controller and didn't recharge the dead ones. Grr. I'm not going to tell what it is. Photos will be posted as soon as the red light changes to green on the charger. You'll have to see it to believe it.

Another totally awesome gift was a handmade niddy noddy from Zack and my dad. It also rocks! They worked on it over Thanksgiving when we visited. Zack sanded and sanded and sanded. It's as smooth as glass. The center is walnut and the arms are cyprus. It's 12" and nice and lightweight. Even signed! Again, photos as soon as I get a green light.

My sister gave me the Skacel felting kit. Totally cool. I had considered giving one to her if the socks didn't work out. How funny would that have been? However, the socks worked! She loves them and they fit perfectly. Yeah!

I'm also dealing with a bunch of other pesky issues. While Randy (my totally rockin' Santa hero) was under the house wiring Zack's room with cable/ethernet, he discovered a massive leaky pipe...the one that the washing machine drains into. Extremely nasty! So, I'll be getting some nice new PVC in the coming days. I don't mind spending money to fix up the house, but it irks the fire out of me when I have to spend money on something I'll never see. I also need a new clutch for my car. Anyone know a good (honest) transmission mechanic in Middle Tennessee? Randy can handle breaks, plugs, etc, but the clutch is more than we want to tackle. It's a pretty important part of the would be best to not screw it up.

Come back later for photos. Trust me, they'll be worth it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No More Titles

The first thing I do when I sit down to write is try to come up with a catchy title. Usually I end up sitting here, drawing a blank. I have the urge to write, but the title bogs me down. Today, I'm liberating myself from "Title:"! I feel better already.

Once again, it's after 11pm. I told myself that I would be in bed by 10, which has been a running joke for the past couple weeks. The things I can accomplish between 10 and midnight are astounding! I've made two batches of fudge, finished the classy slipup socks, wrapped gifts and shopped online. I'm highly sleep deprived, but I'm happy that things are getting done. This weekend will be the real test. My parents are coming to town on Sunday. That gives me approximately 86 hours to prepare. I'll tell you right now, there are just somethings that aren't going to get done. Actually, I should make a list of things that aren't going to get done so I can put it by the list of things that MUST get done. I like lists. are the Classy Slip Up Socks from the Knit Socks book. It's the book shaped like a sock. It's late and I don't feel like looking it up. Check my Ravelry page, it's listed there also.
Finished socks with all the other gifts, ready for shipping:

I'm particularly pleased with the grafting job on the toe.

The yarn is about the color of blueberries. It looks a little odd on the last part of the gussett, but I think it was just the angle of the camer. All the stitches are nice and uniform. This photo is going to bug me.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I Know Jack!

Today was the annual Christmas in Lynchburg, Tennessee. For those of you who may not be familiar with Lynchburg, it is the home of the Jack Daniel's distillery. I'd link you to the page, but their linking agreement is a bit wordy. I didn't want to read the agreement so you can figure it out (it's pretty easy) or click on the Christmas in Lynchburg link. But you gotta be 21 to enter!
Our adventure began this morning at Cracker Barrel in Franklin. We met up with some friends, had a great breakfast and all piled into the truck for the backroads trip to Lynchburg. We got to town in time to enjoy a bit of shopping (and some awesome homemade potato chips!) The Christmas parade was spectacular and lasted 18 minutes this year! That's up a couple minutes from last year. Then after the parade was the dog Christmas costume judging contest. Seventeen entries this year. The competition was staggering!

Once the festivities on the square died down a bit we walked over to the distillery for a tour. This is a "must do" for anyone in the area. I've been there 5 or 6 times and it's still fun, especially if you take people who have never been. The best part of the tour is smelling the charcoal "mellowing" vats. There is no describing how good it smells. It is mouth-watering! I swear that several guys in our tour group were breathing it in through their mouth, the pigs! (I wonder if it worked.)

Another neat thing about today is that it was the annual bottle signing by the Master Distiller and the Master Taster. The Master Distiller is the guy you see in the commercials. He holds the glass up to the light, evaluating, studying...the lucky blank-ity blank blank. The Master Taster is a character. He's a spitter not a swallower. (I kid you not!) What do you have to do to get either one of those jobs? I took a bottle of Single Barrel in for signing. I don't know when/if I'll open it. Right now I'm enjoying a simple shot of Gentleman Jack on the rocks. Tasty!

I'd love to sprinkle this post with photos, but I left my camera in Nashville. We'll go again next year and will make sure to get there early enough to go on the Home Tour and then eat dinner at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House.

We ended the day with a great Mexican dinner in Eagleville. No cervesas, but plenty of good food! Their chips were some of the best I've ever had.

I even got a bit of knitting done. I'm knitting the heel flap on the Classy Slip Up socks. PROGRESS! Well, I'm going to retire to my not-so-comfy sofa with my half-finished glass of Gentleman Jack, and he and I are going to ponder life. Jack is good. What a great day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tree's up!

The tree is set up and Zack is working on the train layout. I can cross this one off the list!!It seems that we have more cars than the transformer can handle. We might have to correct that. This is one of the cars he bought at last week's train show in Huntington. It's a Dixie Line boxcar that he put together himself.

And another photo of Santa because he's just so darn cute!
Santa baby, hurry down my chimney tonight!
My ultimate Christmas list:
  • 2 pairs of Addi Turbo 24" circular knitting needles (the silver ones) in size 2. Sock knitters will know what I mean.
  • Fleece--wool roving, any color as long as it's wool
  • Niddy Noddy -- used to wind wool into hanks (mid size)
  • Swift -- used to wind hanks into balls (sounds redundant, but it's not)
  • Sock yarn -- 250 yards will make a pair of socks. I like wool, but bamboo is intriguing!
  • Bamboo cutting board -- big enough to fit a frozen tombstone pizza
  • Verona Bold Starbucks coffee -- yum!!!
  • Pair of sock blockers -- from Haus of Yarn...I have a size 9 foot, Santa would need to know that.
  • Ashford Traveler or Kromski Sonata spinning wheel -- (OMG!) Not sure which would be better...they both rock! Maybe Ashford as I seem to remember it was more "sturdy" than the Kromski.
  • Knitting needles and a ball of lovely yarn or a drop spindle and roving for everyone in the world, which would lead to....
  • Peace on Earth!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ho Ho Ho!

For the record, I am not offended by the use of "ho ho ho" and will use the phrase liberally throughout this Christmas season. Shame on anyone who thinks it means anything but a jolly greeting from St. Nick. For crying out loud.

On to more pleasant topics: Thanksgiving 2007. I went on carb overload and today I'm in carb withdrawl. It's not pretty. I had a salad for lunch today and snagged a two-pack of crackers at the checkout because I realized the salad I just created was sadly lacking croutons. This calls for an does my yarn "addiction" as my mother puts it.

For the record (again), I am not addicted to yarn, I just like it A LOT. I don't have a problem with yarn. I don't have a problem with all the yarn I have. Actually, now that I think of it, the problem is that I don't have enough yarn. Lately, I've found myself stalking Goodwill and thrift stores hoping to score a great sweater to recycle. (This past weekend was a total success. I found a black cashmere, chestnut donegal tweed, and dove gray lambswool!) Hmmm, I'm sounding a little defensive, where did that come from? Moving on...

Back to Thanksgiving....Zack and I went to Huntington to visit my parents again. It was a weekend for secret projects. Zack and Grandpa headed to the garage (I was not invited) to play with wood and power tools. I think they were making toothpicks and sawdust. My mom and I headed to the basement with a couple old quilts and a Santa pattern.

Inbetween secret projects, Zack and I worked on the annual Gingerbread House. It turned out pretty good. This is the kit from Michael's. We added some of our own candy.
We even got a little snow! For those of you who measure snow in yards or meters, I'm sure you scoffed at this photo. We live in Tennessee, and snow is pretty rare. This was a big hit with Zack.
I also dropped a bit of cash at the Knit and Hook, Huntington's LYS. It was their Thanksgiving Open House...yarn 20% off. My eyes glazed over and I went into a trance-like state. I only walked out with three skeins. It was overload and I panicked. I also picked up a couple tidbits at The Depot. It's a great shop that's run by Goodwill. They sell made in West Virginia products like glass, pottery, etc. Neat place.

I'm not the only one who did some shopping. Zack dropped a couple bucks at the train show. He bought a new L&N caboose and Dixie Line boxcar for his HO (there's that word again) train that we'll put around the Christmas tree.

A little bit of knitting happened also. I'm about 1/2 way done with the second secret sock. it's looking good. I hope to finish this weekend on our annual road trip to Lynchburg, TN for the Jack Daniels Christmas open house. If you're in the area, this is an event that shouldn't be missed. The parade starts at 1 and it's a trip!

All in all, we had a pretty good weekend!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How Much is Too Much Sudafed?

I'm working on a pair of socks for [recipient's name to be divulged after 12/25]. I've never knit socks for feet other than my own, so this is challenging. This person has slightly larger feet than I do, so I'm guessing about size now that I've reached the toe decrease. I'm also not paying attention to what the hell I'm doing. I don't know how many times I have to remind myself to pay attention to the dang pattern! Sheesh! I'm knitting along, doing the toe decrease and get down to the required 16 stitches and notice that the toe is a lovely (not) triangle. Whose toes are shaped like that? I was decreasing every other row for the entire toe rather than switching to every row about half way thru. Frog the stinkin toe... And I wasn't even enjoying an adult beverage! However, I have been taking my fair (and legal) share of sudafed. It's the good stuff you need to sign for! I'm totally brain dead.

Anyway, I cast on the first sock in August and am just now grafting the toe. Will I get the second sock finished in time for Christmas 2007 or will this be a Christmas 2008 gift? Why do I stress myself this way? It's not that I'm a slow knitter...I'm a distracted knitter! I'm a distracted knitter on Sudafed and I'm so wound up now that I can't sleep. God Bless America!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

300 Yards

100% Wool Corriedale
Handspun on homemade drop spindle
300 yards
14 WPI

The lastest batch of handspun yarn--fresh off the spindle. It's a bit more vibrant than the photo. Now it just needs to tell me what it wants to be!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sandalwood Merino

Ever since last weekend's fiber festival in Murfreesboro, I've had the urge to spin. I finished up some corriedale, that I've had on the spindle for a couple years (yes, years!) This is the roving that my dog, Brownie (may she rest in peace), thoroughly trashed. So that tells those of you who were fortunate enough to know Brownie how long I've (not) been working on it. I finished it up this week and plied it. I soaked it last night to set the spin and it's drying. I'll calculate yardage when it's dry. I don't remember where I bought it or how much I purchased. It's been too long.
Next up: 8 ounces of 100% merino wool in Sandalwood. This is absolutely lucious fiber! It's spinning up into a very nice heathered dark tan. I purchased it in Gatlinburg a couple years ago during our annual January weekend trip. There aren't many shops in Nashville (not any) that sell roving, so when I see it while on vacation, I have to buy buy buy! I bought a total of 8 ounces for $17.00. Was that reasonable? I guess it was since I didn't have anything to compare it to. The shop is called Smoky Mountain Spinnery on 466 Brookside Village Way in Winery Square. For those of you familiar with Gatlinburg, she's right near the winery and above Dominoes Pizza. The shop is husband-friendly as her husband has a flyfishing shop right next door. You have to walk through the fishing shop to get to the wool. She doesn't have a web site and the shop is quite small. (Her phone is 865-436-9080.) She also carries a few spinning wheels--Majacraft if I recall correctly. She also has a great line of silk--unspun roving, hankies, handspun, etc. I did some major damage there last year--a skein of handspun silk and some hankies...very nice!

If you get to Gatlinburg, stop in for a visit. She's a lot of fun to talk to (I wish I could remember her name!) and will let you browse at your leisure. She also carries small looms. It's a neat place. When I go back this winter, I'm going to pick up more roving...I think I'll ply this sandalwood with a chocolate brown. Yum!

Quick note on my spindle of choice. I made it myself with a wooden toy truck wheel and dowel purchased at Michael's. I tapered each end of the dowel with a pencil sharpener and then slid it through the hole in the wheel. It was a tight fit, so I sanded down the shorter end until I could get it through the hole. I carved the notch in the top of the spindle with a jack knife. Then I took some fine steel wool and smoothed it all down so there wouldn't be any snagging. It probably cost me all of $2 and took about a half hour. I'm going to make a top whorl spindle next.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Harvest Days and Fiber Festival

On the last Saturday in October, there is a little celebration in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, called Harvest Days at Old Cannonsburgh Village. Finding this event was purely accidental. I was doing a search on the internet for fiber shows and festivals in Tennessee hoping to find the alpaca show I went to in Shelbyville several years ago. I didn't find the alpaca show, but I did find Harvest Days.

Randy (somewhat reluctantly) drove to Murfreesboro with me. Ok, Randy has lived in Nashville all his life and has never been to Murfreesboro other than Stones River Battlefield (where my great great great great grandfather fought with the 21st Wisconsin Infantry out of Oshkosh...but I digress.) Since Randy had never been to Murfreesboro, I drove him around the square. Now Randy has seen Murfreesboro. This trip had huge potential to be a total bust, but when we finally found it, we were pleasantly surprised.

Cannonsburgh Village was created in 1974 for the Bicentennial in 1976. Buildings were moved to the site from various locations around the state. The buildings and exhibits range from the colonial era to the industrial revolution. There's a grist mill, school house, telephone building, church and blacksmith shop to name a few. (More photos are on my Flickr site.)

Once we checked out all the buildings, we rounded a corner and I was FIBER HEAVEN! Right in front of me were 4 small sheep for sale, handmade soap, tubs of alpaca roving, hanks of shimmering silk, handmade knitting needles, and spinning wheels. It was almost too much for me to absorb. Now those of you who have gone to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. Well, for some reason, there aren't many fiber related festivals in this area. For me, this was huge.

Randy kept urging me to talk to the spinners about their wheels and why they chose that particular one. I think he was a bit surprised at the many different styles. There were only two that were the same (Ashford Travelers--I think this is the wheel I'll get if/when I win the lottery), but that was it. The variety was overwhelming! I was in complete overload and needed to walk away and regroup (and get a pulled pork sandwich).

After lunch, I was much better equipped to talk to the exhibitors about their wares. I didn't get a brochure or business card from every vendor, so I apologize for leaving out some names. I've tried to locate a list of exhibitors for the day but haven't had any luck. Here are some of the people I talked to:

  • Three Creeks Farm from Charlotte, TN. The Kromski wheels they had on display were gorgeous!
  • The Taming of the Ewe had LOVELY sock yarn and great fiber. Pat Miller, the shop owner, was very patient with me when I was trying spin on her Louet wheel. I'm all thumbs!
  • Countryside Crafts had some beautiful Ashford wheels.
  • Meredith from the Kaughty Knitter also let me try her spinning wheel. Her shop is in Murfreesboro and I really need to go there!

One of the coolest things was the guy from South Bend, Indiana, who was doing shearing demonstrations. As we were walking past tables laden with garbage bags full of raw fleece, Randy asked me if I wanted to buy a bag. I was going to explain to him why I didn't want to process a raw fleece but decided to show him. We walked over to the shearing demonstration just as the shearer was getting a cotswold lamb prepped for the blade. The lamb was not particularly thrilled, and I can understand's pretty invasive! As the sheared was approaching the "nether regions" of the lamb, Randy understood completely why I was not interested in processing a raw fleece.

I feel so sorry for the nekkid ones! One little boy actually cried for the poor sheep. He was completely traumatized and will probably never go near a razor again. All in all it was a really fun day. Randy had a good time and I loved his company. I wish the boys could have been with us. They would have enjoyed the blacksmiths, but they wouldn't enjoy it too much because they are so 13.

In my upcoming blogs, I'll give a rundown on my works in progress. I scored some awesome 100% wool sweaters today at Goodwill's 1/2 price sale. I'm going to felt them and recycle them into other items that can't be discussed until after Christmas (wink wink)! I'll also give an update on Zack's afghan, the purple socks and the Mohawk hat. Add painting the den (it's going to rock!!) to the list of things to get done before Christmas. The countdown has begun!

This is a pretty long post, thanks for toughing it out!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Zack at 2

The Costume: Carefully hand made by mom, complete with perky ears and mane
The Tennis Shoes: Pooh Bear (his favorite)
The Makeup: Mom's eyeliner applied to nose and chubby cheeks
The Prep Time: DAYS
The Look: More cute than scary lion!

Zack at 13

The Mask: $1.99
The T-shirt: from the drawer
The Blood: corn syrup and food coloring
The Scary Hair: gel and spray
The Prep Time: 10 minutes
The Look: Totally 13!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Happy Halloween!

This is our newest (temporary) family member. Zack did an excellent carving job. I helped a bit with the thin parts, but he did 99%. This is a cool pumpkin.

Randy and I ventured to Murfreesboro last weekend for Harvest Days at Cannonsburgh Village, probably one of the best kept secrets in the area. I was in fiber heaven! Some of you may laugh, but here in middle Tennessee there aren't many opportunities to commune with fellow fiber enthusiasts. I collected several business cards and brochures, and I took a bunch of photos. I'll write about it in the coming days. It really was a lot of fun.

Finding time to blog has been a bit difficult of late. I've been very busy. I just painted my kitched red (it rocks!) and I'm about to tackle the den. You see, I have a limited number of days until my parents arrive for Christmas. I haven't started the count-down yet...that will begin on November 1. Pray for me!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Duke's Adventure

The #1 thing you don't want to see when you've returned from a weekend of camping:
It really was inevitable, so they tell me. "They" being everyone who has owned a hamster.

We returned from a weekend of camping (where I knit like a mad woman on Zack's afghan) on a Sunday night and to Zack's horror, Duke was AWOL. Duke is a dwarf hamster who came to live with us last February. He's pretty cool as far as rodents go and quite social. When I saw the bag of hamster food next to the open cage door, I knew exactly what had happened. I (that would be me, The Mom) fed Duke and FORGOT to shut the cage door. At that point I knew I had about 18 hours to located said rodent before the dog, who thinks hamsters should be kept in dog tummies and not cages, returned from her weekend at the dog spa.

Well, we got out the flash lights and looked under everything. Oh my God, the dust bunnies! Around midnight we gave up. Zack put saucers of water and pieces of dog kibble (Duke's favorite treat) in each room, we turned out the lights and went to bed.

Hamsters are nocturnal.

I got up every half hour to try and chase down the scratching noises I heard throughout the night. By the time my alarm went off, I had maybe gotten 2 hours of sleep. It was going to be a long day. I shuffled to the kitchen to get breakfast going as I yelled to Zack to get up and wouldn't you know it, Duke came scurrying out from under the oven looking for breakfast. I scooped him up, degreased him a bit and put him back in the cage making sure the door was secured! Every morning I tell Zack to get up and then poke my nose in Duke's cage to say good morning and give him a treat. He probably heard me from under the stove and thought, "Woohoo, breakfast is served!" Smart little hamster. I can only imagine what he explored all weekend!

Duke the Dwarf Hamster

Sophie and a freshly de-stuffed buffalo

Stay tuned for the Great Dust Bunny Rodeo and Round-up. Coming to a Blog near you!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the River

On the Ohio River
Originally uploaded by KnittyBits

This is Zack trying to be very serious while modeling his new Marshall University hat. It's a good looking hat...good looking kid too! This photo was taken on the Big Sandy River, a tributary of the Ohio River. There's a really big refinery on this river. It looks pretty grubby by day, but at night it's rather pretty...if a refinery can be considered pretty. It does, however, smell like a refinery.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Whip it Good!

Hi, I'm Chris, and I have a problem with knitting books...hell, books in general. Ok, magazines too. I finally ran out of shelf space (and my budget was straining) so I quit buying books, but every time I drove by Borders or Books-a-Million I got that twitch. I knew there was shiny new knitting book, hot off the press and still smelling like ink, that I had to have. I kept driving and renewed my library card.

So the library books don't really have that fresh ink smell (I was a graphic designer in a former life, there are some smells that we designers will never get over), but the books are plentiful and FREE (if you return them on time, if not there's this nasty business about fines and harrassing e-mails.) The REALLY cool thing is that I can browse the library shelves from the comfort of my home, select the books I want and put them in my online book basket. It's a lot like shopping online, but without giving up your credit card information. Then the library elves go get the books for me, put them in a special place in the library and shoot me a friendly (not harrassing) e-mail to let me know the books are waiting for me. It's amazing. Have I mentioned that it's free? (If you return them on time.....)

This week's book is DomiKNITrix--Whip Your Knitting into Shape by Jennifer Stafford. It looks a bit gothy, but it's a great book...I think I have to have it. I'm not sure if this a "learn to knit" book, but she's got some great tips and tricks coupled with DomiKNITrix-type humor. I was paging through the book the other night and Zack took a peek just as I turned the page to the Mohawk Hat. The yarn came yesterday. It will be black and lime green, just like it is in the book. I told him he has to model it when it's finished. He informed me that he "needs" it in time for ski season. I mean SNOWBOARD season, the young man doesn't ski anymore. Heaven forbid. Faux-mohawks (faux-hawk?) and snowboards...nope, not my DNA.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Prayer Shawl Update

I'm almost finished with my third prayer shawl. It's off the needles, and now I just need to add the fringe....cringe. I don't particularly like doing the fringe, but our "Fringe Lady" (non-knitter who likes to hang out with knitters--the feeling is mutual) has three shawls ahead of mine. Looks like I need to start cutting and tying. The next colorway is Lionbrand Homespun Windsor.

The first prayer shawl went to Zack's grandma after Zack's grandpa passed away. It's a lovely shade of yellow and knit in the traditional K3P3 prayer shawl pattern. The second shawl went to Randy's Aunt Ella who recently lost her 4th, maybe 5th, battle with cancer. It was a green/blue shawl (Tudor) that was so calming to me when I knit with it. I hope it brought her the same calmness it brought me. I knit it a little lacier (bigger needles), but it was also in the K3P3 pattern.

For both of those shawls I knew the people for whom I was knitting. This shawl, on the other hand, is...well...anonymous. It's kind of strange to knit for someone you don't know. This shawl is a triangle. It went very fast, lots of YO, K2TOG and decreases. I'll post photos when it's done.

It's time to log off. There are tornadoes in Hopkinsville, KY, which is too close for comfort. The weather here is about to get a bit exciting. (Randy, please tell me you have moved your 5th wheel.) It's very windy, Sophie is pacing, the weather radio has fresh batteries, and there are two beers in the refrigerator.

See you in Oz!

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Originally uploaded by KnittyBits

We are in Huntington, WV for the weekend. Our schools are on "Fall Break" so we took advantage of the long weekend and hit the highway to visit my parents. Today we spent several hours on the Ohio River. It was a bit blustery, but the river is very interesting in this area. Lots of barge traffic. This is a shot of West Virginia on the right and Ohio on the left. Kentucky is right behind us.

I've gotten a lot of Zack's afghan done in the past couple weekends. I really want it finished by Christmas. Not that it's a Christmas gift, but I'd just like to get it done. I'm praying I have enough yarn.

The box from came on Thursday. Oh YUM! I think I posted my latest "in the queue" project on It's the harvest pullover...killer sleeves! I keep telling myself that I'm going to wait until all the Christmas knitting is done before I cast on. Right.

More pictures when we get home!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

An Essay by Zack

Zack's 8th grade history class is studying the early European explorers. His history teacher is also his language arts teacher. She made them write an essay. Zack will probably shoot me if he finds out I posted this. What are mom's for?

Fernando Santosh
By Zachary L

My name is Fernando Santosh and I was born in 1502 on September the second. I explored with Hernando Cortez and I have the biggest passion for sailing these seven seas. My brother was attacked by a shark on my tenth birthday when my father took us out in his canoe. The canoe flipped and that was the last we saw of him. I have devoted my life to the sea so I can find the shark that killed my brother so I can kill him. I plan to catch him on Cortez’s ship.

“I love you, Mother,” I say as I leave our hut in Spain. I went down to the shipyard to join my shipmates and meet our captain, Cortez.

“Isn’t he the one who sailed to Hispaniola in 1504?” asked my best friend Roberto.

“1503!” I corrected as I glared at him while he walked out on the dock. “And yes, I think it is.”

He said we were to set sail and explore Mexico. In the early sunrise, we untied the ship from the dock and we were off for Mexico. It didn’t feel as if it were to be that short of a journey, but if you have to work to keep yourself busy, you’ll see land on the horizon before you know it.

This journey would make this my first birthday away from home. I wouldn’t have the fruit from my mother’s garden of any of her seasoned chicken, which I loved the most. I began to feel a tear rolling down my face as I was looking out on the horizon knowing that my mother had no one to keep her company as her birthday passed as well. Now I am eighteen years old and have been sailing since I was twelve years old.

“Stop dreaming. Get back to work!” said Roberto. “It’s for your own good. It won’t be long before we’re back home. Oh, and happy birthday!”

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


We don't need no....wait a minute...Yes, I do need stinking badges!

I must admit I'm a Brenda Dayne junkie, and I am a Badge-Whore. There, I've said it. Brenda, for those of you who don't know, is a podcaster and hosts "Cast-On, A Podcast for Knitters". When I first encountered Brenda, it was more of an accident. It began like this...

It was a dark and stormy night. Randy had just arrived at my house with yet another new gadget called an mp3 player. "Why would you want one of those?" I inquired. He began explaining podcasts. "Why would anyone want to talk about something, record it on their computer and upload it for all the world (or mp3 player owners) to hear?" I queried.

Randy looked me in the eye and said, "do you trust me?" I nodded and he took me by the hand and gently led me to my computer. He fluffed the cushion on my computer chair and beckoned me to take a seat. I did so. I surrendered to him as he led me to Podcast Alley. It looked a little nerdy, but I trusted him. I let him show me the thousands of podcasts available to the world. He showed me ham radio podcasts, linux podcasts, and hiking podcasts. In jest he said, "I'll bet they even have knitting podcasts." The damage was done. I found Brenda, or maybe Brenda found me.

I bought an mp3 player and I've been an avid listener ever since. I may not be lurking on her website to be the first to download the latest podcast. I may not post comments to her website like the many other listeners. But I am devoted. Basically, she rocks! I'd like to sit and knit with I listen to her podcast, sometimes more than once. Is that wrong?

This past summer Brenda took us to camp. I'm a former Girl Scout, and somewhere in my stack of photographs is a 4x4 black and white photo of me in pigtails, wearing plaid bellbottoms, sitting on the floor of the school gymnasium, stitching together an afghan. I learned to knit before Girl Scouts, but that's a very vivid memory of my girlhood knitting. To be quite honest, I don't even recall when I learned to knit. I've always known how. But when I think of knitting when I was a girl, I recall sitting on that hard floor piecing mishapened knitted "squares" together. I don't recall what we did with the afghan, but it was a thing to behold.

When Brenda posted badges for her "Knit Sibs" to earn, I downloaded every one that I have earned at some point in my life.

The first badge I earned is the “Proselytize Knitting” Badge. I earned this badge by schlepping my knitting EVERYWHERE. When people inquire, I talk about the latest project. I have been known to say that knitting is sexy and hot. The “MacGyver” Badge (Level One) - For this badge the recipient must demonstrate clever use of a non-knitting tool in a knitting-related scenario. I've used paper clips as stitch markers, a bamboo skewer as a cable needle, used my son's geometry protractor to measure gauge.
The “MacGyver” Badge (Level Two) - The recipient must demonstrate clever use of a knitting tool in a non-knitting-related scenario. I earned this badge on a Sunday when the hardware store was closed. I used cotton yarn to tie up a seasoned pork tenderloin. I didn't have any butcher's twine. All I could find was worsted weight mercerized 100% cotton. It worked.
The “Knitting Whilst Under the Influence” Badge - This applies to both actual knitting under the influence, as well as achieving moments of stunning intellectual clarity about ones knitting under the influence. I've done this...results weren't good. Step away from the knitting needles!The “Knitting Got Me Through My Divorce” Badge - Knitting has gotten me through a lot of things, not just my divorce. Now I use my knitting to help other people get through tough times. I'm a member of the Prayer Shawl Ministry at my church. What an awesome group of friends I've found!

For my next post, I'll try to find the black and white photo of me in pigtails, it's around here somewhere. But in the mean time, if you run across Randy today, be sure to wish him happy birthday...and put a pink bow on it!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Big Sucking Sound

Like everyone else I know, I have my share of distractions. I can also find really good excuses to not do things. Last week I got my long awaited invitation to the ultimate fiber distraction--Ravelry! Like I need another knitting-related addiction in my life right now, but this is so cool! The big sucking sound you hear is TIME.

Ravelry is a place for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration.
On paper (or screen) this sounds like it would be a giant time-saver! What a wonderous idea--a place for my stash, needles inventory, and patterns along with a place to meet up with other knitters, check out their stuff, send messages and get help. I've been tinkering with my profile (knittybits) but I don't have a lot entered yet. It's even more ultra-cool because it meshes nicely with flickr, so uploading project photos is a breeze. As I sit here and type I'm doing so a teensy bit begrudgingly because I know this is time I could spend lurking on Ravelry. I'm going to have to be careful. Here's a thought--maybe Ravelry will force me to confront my stash in a realistic and adult-like manner. Snork.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sophie's Treat?

The other day I went to one of my LYSs for a fix. I may have mentioned it in a previous post. I felt-up a bunch of yarn and ended up purchasing three skeins of Plymouth Yarn Royal Bamboo. It's 100% bamboo and has a very silky look to it.

The color is simply #09, which drives me nuts. I would love to have the job of coming up with names for yarn colorways. This particular yarn colorway consists of ecru, ginger, pink and charcoal. The color repeats about 2-3". When I saw the yarn in the basket at the yarn shop, something about the colors drew me in. My plan for the yarn is a multi-directional scarf (google multidirectional scarf for the pattern--super easy).

One evening, I was knitting and set my work aside to let our dog, Sophie, in the house. She expects a treat each time she comes in, and sits very nicely by the counter where the treat jar sits. As I reached in the jar to grab a tasty morsel, I came up with the perfect name for the #09 colorway--"Sophie's Treat". See the photo.

How funny is that? The yarn is lovely and silky, but it tends to split. I have to keep an eye on my knitting so I don't snag stitches. I'll post photos when it's done.

Yarn Specifications:
Yarn Content: 100% Bamboo
Yarn Gauge: 5 sts = 1"/US8 needle
Yarn Length (yards): 93 yds/50g ball

Monday, September 10, 2007

More on the Japanese Album Project

Most of my blogging and online time has been spent on my Japanese photo album project. I've done a bit of knitting here and there, and even spent 30 glorious minutes fiber-fondling in a yarn shop, but when I'm online, I'm sleuthing. Unfortunately, I still don't know much more about the photo album than I knew a month ago. Japanese Kanji is not easily translated into the western alphabet. I've requested a book from the library, so when it comes in maybe I can decipher some bits and pieces.

The one thing I noticed about the album was the degree of care that went in to the photo placement, the manner in which the photos were mounted, and the elegance of the captions. It really is beautiful and is a striking contrast to my grandfather's album from the same period of time. Not that my grandfather's album is sloppy and unelegant, but the photos are taped in and captions are few and scrawled in pencil. The subject matter of the two albums is also quite different. The Japanese album contains very few action photos and there are many formal portraits of people and fellow soldiers. There's almost a sense of serenity eminating from the album. My grandfather's album, on the other hand, contains rather disturbing deptictions of the aftermath of the battle, photos of men working and no keepsake photos of those at home. It makes for an interesting comparison. I wish I had asked my grandfather more questions about it.

I'm just about ready to start decreasing for the toe on the blue/purple/teal socks. I'd take a photo but my camera is AWOL.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Me Time

There isn't a lot of "me time" in my life right now. I'm dealing with way too many things that don't involve knitting. It seems like I only get to knit a few stitches here and there before time is up.

Today was no different. I went to work, ate lunch at my desk, left a bit early to meet with Zack's teachers, fixed dinner, and in the middle of doing dishes I decided to chuck the chores and take some pictures of my latest project. It's all about priorities, right? (This is the project I vowed not to cast on until Zack's afghan was finished. Yeah, right.)

This is the Classy Slip Up sock pattern from "Knit Socks!" by Betsy Lee McCarthy. (It's the book that's actually shaped like a sock.) The pattern is super easy pattern and not at all boring. The vertical and horizontal patterns work well with the yarn's color changes. I think the colors being about the same brightness keep the pattern from getting too busy and lost. (I think the sock would be gorgeous in the semi-solid yarn that I just read about in the Knitter's Review weekly newsletter. You should subscribe.) If you're a beginning knitter, Betsy's patterns are super easy to follow. If you've knit a pair or two of socks, you may find her patterns a bit elementary, but sometimes elementary is good...less to think about. The needles are my new size one DPNs from Knitpicks. It took me a bit to get used to them. I'm a bamboo girl. Maybe I should say I was a bamboo girl. The yarn is also from Knitpicks. It's the 100% merino wool yarn that I dyed myself...twice. I'm pretty pleased with how it's knitting up. I just had to share.
Well, back to the dishes...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Who are we?

Originally uploaded by KnittyBits

This is one of the many photos from the World War II Japanese photo album that my grandfather brought back from Guadalcanal after the war. Based on how many photos there are of this young man, I believe the man standing on the left is the owner of the album.

A New Project

My grandfather served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was in the Construction Battalion, otherwise known as the SeaBees.

The 26th Battalion arrived on Guadalcanal on December 26, 1942, after the battles. It was their mission to clean up and establish bases on Guadalcanal and the nearby islands. My grandfather took many photographs while on the island, some of which are rather graphic. He found a Japanese photo album that he brought home after the war. He had talked about returning the album but I assume he didn't know how to go about doing so. He gave all his photographs and the album to me before he passed away. I packed the albums in a box, put them on the top shelf of the closet, and forgot about them...until last spring.

I unpacked the album and showed it to my son. He suggested that his friend's parents try to translate it. His friend is Japanese. I copied a few pages and the one name that they were able to translate was Shin-ichi Ichinose. It's a start. I created a blog about the album, so please take a moment to take a look.
This is a beautiful album. It's a treasure and needs to be returned to its family. Please help if you can.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ham--The Other White Meat

Last weekend I went with Randy to the annual Hamfest in Huntsville, Alabama. This is going to sound shocking, but Hamfest is not a festival celebrating the endless variety of succulent pork products. I was disappointed my first year. Honey Baked Hams has a "booth" at the festival, but no free product give-aways. It's a shame, such a captive audience. My dear knitters, Hamfest is a festival for ham radio operators...and it is something to behold.

If you live near Huntsville, you should make a point to attend the annual 'Fest. The things you will see will astonish and amaze. In the world of ham radio operators, size matters. It's all about who has the longest antenna. Seriously. There were guys with antennae clipped to their ball caps. I kid you not! There were ball caps with LED inserts that scrolled and flashed messages like "Hi, my name is KI4FNU! What's yours?" There were husbands and wives with t-shirts that said, "I'm with WB6TFN" and "I'm WB6TFN." I can't make this stuff up. Everything from pink hair to no hair, from short shorts to pants pulled up a bit to high. Hamfest is a people-watchers paradise.

So why did I go? Huntsville is only a 2 hour drive from here, and the LYS is well worth the trip. Yarn Expressions is located at 8415 Whitesburg Drive, near the Post Office. It's a great shop! The owner has a good web site also. Go, touch, buy!

I bought a bag of undyed blue faced leicester roving. So soft and wonderful. And I bought a skein of sock yarn from Pagewood Farm in the Crayon colorway. YUM! I probably spent an hour in the shop touching and trying not to drool on everything. She really has a great selection and the prices seem right in line with other yarn shops. Her sock yarns were tremendous! Lots of Trekking, Tofutsies, etc. She had yarn that I can't get from my LYSs, stuff I've only read about. What a treat to fondle! She also carries spinning wheels. Yes, spinning wheels! They are pretty hard to come by in the middle Tennessee area, but she had several. I didn't inquire as to prices because "if you have to ask you can't afford it." So I settled for the lovely sock yarn and the roving. I'll get a wheel one day.

These ladies were buzzing me as I was taking photos of my yarn. Note the dry dead vine on the hook. My garden is crispy. Everything is nasty dry. Got to feed the hummers and the birds! Poor things.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Knitting for Zack

I pulled out Zack's afghan again. There's nothing like curling up under a wool afghan as the air-conditioner is stroking out trying to keep the house at 78 degrees! It may sound demented, but I need to knit for Zack right now.

School started up on Monday, and so did the stress of eighth grade, new classes, being the only one who is 12, new teachers, old and new friends, and everything else that goes with being in the eighth grade. So, as I work on his afghan I knit in how proud I am of him, my love for him, and most importantly my prayers for him. When the weather turns chilly, he's going to snuggle up under that afghan and be totally surrounded by love and prayers. So, no matter how hot it is outside, and no matter how warm I get under the afghan I'm knitting, I need to knit for Zack.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I'm Melting!

I haven't been doing much of anything lately except trying to stay cool...and that's not been an easy thing to do. For the past, well, I don't know how long, it's been hot. Hot as in the air conditioner hasn't quit in weeks. Hot as in the dog won't even go outside. In other words, hot in the biblical hellish sense.

It's getting to the point where it's almost laughable it's so hot. And dry. It's too hot to mow the lawn, but that's ok because we haven't had any rain to make the yard grow. However, there are some fools in the neighborhood with lovely green lawns. You've got to be kidding! They're going to have to mortgage their house to pay the water bill. Plus, why would anyone water their lawn just so they can mow it when it's 100 stinkin' degrees at 7:00pm?? I kid you not, tonight it was 100 STINKIN' degrees at 7.

This doesn't mean I haven't been playing with yarn and fiber. I dyed another batch of yarn, this time in a pink/terra cotta/chestnut brown combination. It looks good. I learned a few more things, but I feel I'm getting better a better feel for the whole process. One word: Patience.

I cast on a Jaywalker sock (there's a link in a July post I think) in some of my hand-dyed purple, blue and teal. I'm using my new Knitpicks DPNs. Oh. Oh. Oh. Totally dreamy. This yarn is knitting up so much better than I anticipated. It's striping really well with no puddling (so far). Let's discuss the kitchener cast on. What a bitch! First of all, you have to cast on all at once. Do not put your work down to answer a "hey, mom!" summons. Start over. Do not drop a stitch in the first row. It's totally impossible to pick up a dropped stitch. Start over. Then I crossed my stitches at the join like a total idiot. Start over. (Hint, use bamboo DPNs, or something slow, for the kitchener cast on, then switch to the fast needles.) I can't tell you how many attempts I made, but the final result is quite nice. However, I'm starting to stress over the second sock. Will it look as good?

No photos to post because it'

Thursday, August 2, 2007

If at First You Don't Succeed...

...dye, dye again! I'm much happier with my yarn. Still not what I was planning, but it will work. I darn near ended up with purple, blue and teal dreadlocks. Great instructions on the dye...boiling water. Ok, I'm dying wool here people and wool doesn't particularly enjoy soaking in boiling water.

[Good grief! I'm stopping right here and am going to continue my typing in notepad or something. This stupid post editing window is slower than Christmas. Does anyone else have that problem??]

The colors of this new dye job are purple, sapphire and teal. Since it's an over dye the colors took differently in different places, but I made sure I dyed the sapphire in the same place on both skeins. I did it like dipping candles. My arms are still sore. The new arm workout!

Oh...Webs is having their annual summer sale! OMG! Check it out. I just got the flier in the mail. Now is the time to stock up on yarn for Christmas projects. Their prices are really great. I bought nearly all the yarn for Zack's afghan from them. I bought 1/3 from my LYS somewhat out of guilt and somewhat out of the fact that Webs didn't carry the right shade of tan. I saved a ton! I do suffer from the online vs LYS dilemma, but I also suffer from the I-don't-have-enough-money dilemma. The yarn from Webs was LESS THAN HALF the price at my LYS. What's a knitter to do? And it's not like it's fancy yarn. It's plain old reliable Encore wool blend. I love the stuff! I has enough wool content to be warm. It washes like a dream. Actually it looks better after several (gentle) washings. Good stuff. Go get some and knit with it. Now. Go. I mean it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chapter 4

~ ~ In which Chris sees beyond the socks...
... and notices her legs and feet ~ ~

Gads! Has anyone noticed just how unflattering self-portrait photographs are of one's feet? I just scrolled down on the page and the cursed sock photo caught my eye. Could my legs look any fatter? (Note the nifty potholder that Zack made in the upper right corner!) Seriously, if someone has a better way (and I can't don't won't do yoga) to get an attractive and mildly flattering foot shot, please let me know!

A Cat Barfed on My Yarn

Seriously, the yarn I dyed last night looks like cat puke. It's soaking right now to prep for an over-dye. I couldn't even bring myself to post a photo of it. Nasty, totally nasty. The purple/teal combo is still quite nice, but that salmon is rough. Nothing good about it. So, I'm really going to experiment with the over dye. Heck, it's ruined the way it is, what do I have to lose? Only about 10 bucks in yarn and maybe a dollar or two in dye. It's time to get weird.

I might just end up with two lovely skeins of black merino sock yarn. Not a bad thing.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Start Simple

I dyed two skeins of yarn tonight. The jury is still out. I thought I'd be clever and pick three colors for a cold pour paint. I picked purple, teal and orangey salmon--pretty much the secondary colors, or there about. I was going for a muted purple/lavendar, light teal, and just a hint of pink/orange. I added a bit of yellow to the purple to bring it into a more plum range, and then diluted it. To the teal, I added a bit of salmon. I was trying to desaturate by adding the opposite color. The teal looked pretty good on my test coffee filter. The salmon was just plain LOUD, so I tried to soften it and bring in more orange by adding yellow dye. Again, really good on the coffee filter.

So, I started to pour. Three mistakes....

1. When working on a new colorway, take copius notes (which I did) and only dye one skein at a time (I dyed two.)

2. When working with three opposite colors, watch out for gray, which is what happened at the teal/salmon transition.

3. I have a lovely little purple spot on my white t-shirt. It's not a good place for a spot unless, of course, you want people to wonder why you have a purple spot on one boob and not the other, and does it have any particular meaning?

I had hoped that I added enough salmon to the teal to bring it down so it would blend nicely, but it started to go gray in a hurry. They really neutralized each other out...which, now that I'm writing about it, is what I was trying to do in the mixing, but not what I anticipated in the pour. Duh, Chris.

The teal and purple are absolutely lovely together, and since this was a cold pour, there are lighter and darker sections. Total yum! I think I'm going to over-dye the salmon sections with purple or maybe sapphire. I'll let the skeins dry over night and make my final judgement tomorrow. Who knows, maybe when they dry they'll be what I intended.

Maybe I could get the skeins wet, hang them on hangers above my dye pot and immerse (or emerge depending on your denomination) just the salmon sections in dye exhaust, letting the exhaust "creep" up the skein. I wonder if that would work. Ponder. Maybe I'll just do the dye "creep" with purple dye dunking it in the same manner as making candles. Ponder.

A final rant: Today, I was craving a chocolate shake. I can't remember the last time I had one (years) and it just sounded good. It was 94 degrees and I wanted a frozen chocolatey something I could slurp through a straw. Two McDonald's, two out-of-order shake machines. Is it a conspiracy? The old bait and switch? They suck.

I decided on the next project:
Jaywalker Socks from MagKnits in Socks that Rock Lightweight Merino Terra Firma. Tasty! (Much tastier than the chocolate shake I didn't get.)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Good Morning!

This is what I saw when I stepped outside a few minutes ago. Not a bad way to start the morning.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sock it to me!

After several false starts on the toe, I finally finished the cursed socks! More photos on Flickr. I wanted to post right away, so I didn't sweat over the photo shoot. As you can see, I didn't even get off the couch.

I learned several things from these socks....

1. I need to find a better cast-on for a top down sock. This one is ok, but on is ever so slightly tighter than the other. It's not noticable when they're on, I noticed it as I was stretching them side by side. Not a big deal.

2. On my next set of socks, I'll decrease maybe 2 more rounds in the gussett. I have really high insteps and the socks should have a smaller/tighter instep.

3. I'm going to knit from the toe up the next time. I had way too much yarn left over. Left over yarn is not a bad thing (maybe fingerless wrist warmers?) but I would have made the socks just a wee bit longer.

4. As for the toe...I did a search on the internet and found the chimney toe method by Lucy Neatby. It's about the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. Basically, when you get to the end of the sock you switch to a contrasting yarn and knit about 8 rounds with no decreases, and then cast off. Shut up, it really looks like a chimney! Then you poke the chimney inside the sock and line up the sock stitches and graft them together. Once the grafting is done, you ravel the chimney and voila, a perfect toe! Check out her site, she has tons of great ideas.

I was so pleased with the toe on the second sock that I frogged the toe on the first sock and reknit and grafted with the chimney method.

Thanks, Lucy! You've made me so very happy! On to project next....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tip Toe

There are 16 stitches left on the needles of my sock. That means only one thing, time to graft the toe. I hate grafting. It just never seems to come out the way it should. I end up with a weird lump at the beginning and it's inevitable that I come up with one extra stitch so things don't lay right. I say to myself, "who will know? It's the toe, you'll never see it." Well my toes will see it. So, I'll do it over as many times as I need to in order to get it right. These socks are too beautiful to have sloppy toes.

The reason I didn't get the second sock done Sunday night is because I frogged the toe decrease. I knit it with a nylon reinforcing yarn and it came out really stiff and thick. I wasn't happy, so out it came. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, right? Right.

Photos tomorrow, I promise!

Monday, July 23, 2007

An Apology to My Sister

I must apologize to my sister. Some time ago, I presented her with a gift of a skein of Mountain Colors sock yarn in the Northern Lights colorway, a pack of bamboo DPNs and a sock pattern designed by a somewhat local knitting expert. My sister, Karen, has never knit socks before. Many hats and scarves, but no socks. I thought this would be a good starter pattern that would get her hooked. The pattern is interesting enough to prevent stockinette burn out, yet the stitch repeat is simple and easy to remember. I can picture the Karen picking up her new new bamboo DPNs and wondering if she should knit with them or skewer some shrimp for the barbie.

Taking a deep breath, Karen casts on the recommended 72 stitches, being careful not to twist the stitches at the join. (She knows about twisted stitches, you see, there was this hat...) She breezes through the first inch of 1x1 rib. The hand painted yarn is looking good, but she's anxious to get to the meat of the pattern. As she knits the ankle of the slip stitch sock, she marvels at how the little bits of golden yellow miraculously show up just as she's slipping a stitch, making the pattern pop with life. When she gets to the heel flap, she hesitates for a moment until she realizes that the instep stitches just "hang out" while the heel flap is worked back and forth in a twisted slip stitch pattern. That makes perfect sense, and she finishes the flap fearing that the worst is yet to come.

(Why is it that turning a heel has a reputation for being a very difficult knitting maneuver? It's quite simple really, if you trust the pattern and do what it says.)

Karen admires her work thus far. It really is quite beautiful and not nearly as difficult as she supposed. She bravely dives into the heel turn only to have her confidence shattered by knitting abbreviation she has never seen before. The pattern reads as follows:

Turn Heel --
SL1, P ?/20, P2TOG, P1, turn work

She ponders the "P ?/20" instruction. It doesn't make sense to her because the next row instructs her to K5. So what the heck does P ?/20 mean? She consults her knitting books and finds no reference to question marks in knitting patterns. She knows WTF? but P ?/20...not a clue. Karen breaks down and calls her sister, but she knows that big sis will only tell her to "trust the pattern". Frustrating advice, yet it has always proven true.

Well, Karen, this time I apologize because this three-page pattern is riddled with typos and vague instructions. I hope you didn't get to the heel flap and rip everything out in total frustration. I owe you a better pattern for that beautiful yarn and your first foray into sock knitting.

To the pattern designers: Please proof your patterns and have them test knit by someone else, preferably someone who knits.

To those giving yarn and patterns as gifts to fledgling knitters: Please read the pattern to make sure there aren't any bungled up instructions like "P ?/20".

P ?/20


Sunday, July 22, 2007

But Did I Knit?

Yes, I did! And I'm nearly done with second cursed sock.

My morning routine went like this (with minor deviations):
1. Roll out of bed between 6:30 and 7:30 (Tuesday morning it was 5:45)
2. Make a pot of Columbian coffee with an extra scoop for good measure
3. Brush teeth, etc, while waiting for said coffee
4. Pour coffee into enormous travel mug (with appropriate amounts of chemical additives)
5. Grab knitting and head for the patio

There were a few mornings when it was just too humid to knit, so I read instead. I'm about 1/8 into James Michener's "The Source". If you like Michener, this one is pretty good. It's about an archeological dig in Isreal in the 1964. But you have to like Michener, it's not your typical beach novel. However, I highly suggest "Hawaii" if you're headed to the islands. Just blow past the first several hundred pages as he goes on and on and on and on and on (you get the idea) about the birth of the Hawaiian Islands.

Back to knitting...I'm decreasing the toe on the cursed sock, so I should have it done tonight (which still counts as getting it done while on vacation!) It looks really good and the gauge is matching the first sock, finally. I was a bit worried about knitting with wool on bamboo needles in hot, humid weather, but it didn't seem to make a difference. I'm going to frog the toe on the completed sock and rework it with nylon reinforcing thread. I also don't like the decreases on the first sock all that much. Toes don't take long, but I really hate grafting them. My next sock will be a toe-up out of STR Terra Firma. I'll post the cursed socks on Flickr as soon as they are BOTH off the needles.

It's been a good week of knitting. I also picked up the new Interweave "Felt" magazine. It's a special issue and I'll post a mini-review in the coming days.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More on Respect

The following is an excerpt from:

Respect: A Foundation for Good Relationships
Respect is not just a vital ethical virtue; it is also an essential foundation for good relationships. Teens who show disrespect by ignoring, belittling, insulting or defying their parents make effective parenting difficult and unpleasant, if not impossible. Therefore, a central goal of good parenting is to teach your children to respect you.

You also have a duty to treat your teen with respect. Again, this is not only an obligation of conscience but also a practical necessity. Parents who yell, manipulate, insult, demean, abuse or ignore their children erect huge barriers to effective parenting.

Treating people with respect means letting them know that their safety and happiness matter, that they are important. To teach our children to be respectful, we need to translate the moral principal of respect into specific attitudes and actions.

Here are seven basic rules of respect:
1. Honor the individual worth and dignity of others.
2. Treat others with courtesy and civility.
3. Honor reasonable social standards of propriety and decency and personal beliefs, customs and traditions that are important to others.
4. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
5. Accept and tolerate individual differences and judge others on the content of their character and their abilities rather than religion, race, ethnicity or ideology.
6. Honor the right of adults and the desire of maturing children to control and direct their own lives.
7. Avoid using physical force or intimidation, and refrain from improper threats of force.

Here are some points to keep in mind as you strive to model a respectful attitude for your teen:
1. Listen to your teen without judging or criticizing.
2. Let your teen make his or her own decisions as much as possible.
3. Refrain from saying "I told you so" when your teen fails after ignoring your advice-not easy, but important!
4. Never make fun of your teen.
5. Give your teen your full attention when he or she talks to you.
6. Respect their privacy and possessions.
7. Avoid doing things yourself that you don't want your teen to do: using bad manners, arguing, using offensive language and negative comments.

This information comes from Parenting to Build Character in Your Teen, a joint project of CHARACTER COUNTS! and Common Sense Parenting®.

* * * * * * * * *

As I've been knitting this past week, I've also done a lot of thinking about respect. The greatest lessons we teach our children are by the examples we set. Children learn best by watching what we do and then immitating our actions. I will be a better example. I can only hope others will choose a similar path.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Respect - Definitions

Every now and then, the concepts of respect and self-respect must be revisited, lest they be forgotten. Let's start with disrespect:

dis·re·spect [disriˈspekt]
1. lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness.

verb (used with object)
2. to regard or treat without respect; regard or treat with contempt or rudeness.

—Synonyms 1. contempt, disregard, irreverence.

Source: Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
re·spect (rĭ-spěkt')
tr.v. re·spect·ed, re·spect·ing, re·spects
1. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem.
2. To avoid violation of or interference with: respect the speed limit.
3. To relate or refer to; concern.

1. A feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem. See Synonyms at regard.
2. The state of being regarded with honor or esteem.
3. Willingness to show consideration or appreciation.
4. respects Polite expressions of consideration or deference: pay one's respects.
5. A particular aspect, feature, or detail: In many respects this is an important decision.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 22 Jul. 2007.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

self-respect [selfriˈspekt]
respect for oneself and concern for one's reputation (
Example: Well-known personalities should have more self-respect than to take part in television advertising.)

Source: Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary. K Dictionaries Ltd. respect

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Beach Bums

Greetings from Panama City Beach! It's Day Two of our vacation. I had every intention of posting last night, but I was dog tired. We left home around 4am and arrived at the beach around lunch time. The drive down was rather uneventful, but we did see the sunrise in Cullman while we ate breakfast at Denny's.

A few hours later, we stopped at Priester's Pecans to see them make the candy, but they weren't making the candy. Such a shame. They have a "Chocolate Room" in their factory. I would like to work in a Chocolate Room. I bought some rum pecans, yum!

Then we arrived at the beach and dined at The Red Bar. This is a wonderful place! It's off the beaten track but it's hugely popular.
And finally....some boogie boarding!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Just a few more hours...

...and we'll be on our way to the beach! The car is packed, and I mean packed. I hope there's room for the boys! It's going to be a lot of fun. Here's our Top 10 list of what we want to do this next week:

  1. Sleep in
  2. Relax
  3. Eat lots of good junk (guilt-free of course)
  4. Relax again
  5. Metal detect along the beach (with the new Bounty Hunter Tracker IV)
  6. Goof off
  7. Snorkel on the Daniel Webster Clements
  8. Swim at the pool
  9. Look for shells
  10. Stay up late

Sounds like we have our work cut out for us. We'll have a computer and wireless card, so I plan on blogging from the beach. I can't promise that I'll post every day, but I'll keep in touch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Project Update!

Now that I've got my head out of my rear, I'm making pretty good progress on the second sock. My goal is to get it done while on vacation. I also have some Socks that Rock (STR) yarn that's patiently waiting for me to cast on. Not until this pair is done and ends are woven in.

On my needles:

  1. Lime green/black felted tote: Yarn--Berroco Vibe. It has been felted and shaped, so it's technically OFF the needles. All I need to do is sew the lining. I even have the lining fabric, I just need to find the sewing machine. It's in the guest room buried under mounds of yarn.
  2. Talisman handbag: Yarn--Boho Colors. This is also off the needles and waiting for lining and handles. I just haven't had time to look for the perfect hardware for this. It is so cool and will make a great evening bag. I'm not going to have long yarny handles. It needs something more sophisticated.
  3. Zack's afghan: I can't knit on this in the summer. It's just too warm. I'm using Plymouth Encore in heathered blue, red and tan. I chose Encore since it has a high wool content but can be machine washed. Very important. The pattern is something Zack and I came up with, domino or modular knitting. I hope to have it done by mid-September, or when the weather turns cool again.
  4. T-shirt bath rug: This one is interesting. I bought a bunch of purple t-shirts at Goodwill and I'm knitting them into a rug. It's not very easy going because the needles are huge. I'm about 1/3 done. It's a simple garter stitch, cast on 10 knit for several rows, bind off all but one stitch, turn and pick up stitches along an edge, knit some more. Totally random.

More photos to come. I plan on posting Zack's afghan pattern when it's complete. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Knit one, frog too!

I am mental. I'm knitting the second slip stitch sock. I just finished the 14 rows of 1x1 ribbing (again because my tension was for total crap the first time, wait...that would be the second time) and I started on the pattern. It's super easy--72 sts, size 1 dpns; 3 rounds of k3, p1; then a round of k2, yo, k1, p1; then two rounds of k1, slip as to purl, drop the yo stitch, k1, p1. I finished the first 6 rows and started the k3 p1 round, but I didn't p1. I'm not sure why I didn't p1, but it sure bungled up the pattern. I kept looking at it, then at the first sock, back at the second sock. [#$*%&!@] So I frogged the dang thing again, but only down to the ribbing. I WILL NOT START THIS SOCK FROM THE BEGINNING AGAIN. I will not. Cripes. My head must be in my rear end.

Here's an interesting thing I've learned from this...frogged yarn is like knitting with ramen noodles. This second sock just isn't looking as smooth as the first one. I'm hoping that when I block it, it won't look like ramen anymore. Ramen isn't a good look for a sock. I'm beginning to doubt that I'll ever get this one done.

Spinning Update:
I did a test spin on the merino roving. I only spun about a yard and then plied it back on itself.! So what if it has the faintest scent of cig butt. It spins like a freakin' dream! It's all I can do to not start it right now. But I will wait and dye it first. I'm thinking beach glass colors...we'll see what kind of inspiration I get from vacation.